Friend of the Knee

Knee

I wanted to say a big thanks for your comments and emails on the Dodgy Knee Update! It was a knee nerds delight and I learned so much from all the links and information shared.

Among the goodies, P posted three really interesting articles from a website called Aligned and Well. This article articulates with lovely bluntness what the osteopath always says about knee problems being connected to other things going on in your body (hello tight calves and hips). And this Movement IS Medicine post reiterated the need for consistent, low-impact movement… as opposed to yo-yoing between high intensity and the couch. Ahem. Thanks P!

So I'm re-learning how to be a Friend of the Knee. It's totally manageable when I stop going out of my way to harm it. Much of the damage came from nutty attempts to keep up. There were countless kickboxing, running, hiking moments etc where the knee was so painful and hot and crunchy and I couldn't straighten my leg properly, but I pushed on because I didn't want to look wussy. I didn't want to miss out. I didn't want anyone thinking, "Fat gal can't keep up". (Sure everyone would have been lost in their own sweaty thoughts, but sometimes there's no stopping the Paranoia Express!)

But now I'm pushing 35 and understand that you only get one life and two knees. The new motto is: What Would Wilma Do?

Way back in 2006 I got an email from a wonderful woman named Wilma who said that she'd had knee troubles all her life but she worked hard to manage them,  and as a result was still able to do the activities she loved. She had a comprehensive list of stretches and exercises she did to strengthen the muscles around her knee. She performed these consistently every day. She was a Friend of the Knee!

I bet she is still doing that six years later. Are you out there Wilma? I hope you are well!

At the time I took her advice very seriously… but not consistently. I'd modify my exercise routine and religiously perform the exercises… those tedious moves like squeezing a cushion between your knees that feel so utterly pointless and dammit I'd rather be at BodyPump… but they made a difference. My legs got stronger. But then I'd get frustrated and bored and throw myself into a high impact activity. Then I'd get hurt. Then I'd crawl apologetically back to kneehab. Repeat nauseam for half a decade.

Those days are gone, old chaps. GONE!

Current Friend of the Knee habits:

  • Stretchy stuff:
    • Daily stretch routine
    • Yoga class
    • Pilates class
  • TRX class – with modifications.
  • Lots of Omega-3s
  • Wearing sensible shoes – no flimsy flats, no high heels. Zzzzzz… but makes a huge difference.
  • The Stork exercise – Up & Runners will groan in recognition… standing on one foot. Brilliant for activating the feet and working the calves.

Things I'm working on:

  • Adding in more walks – on even, joint friendly surfaces. Just plain ol' walking seems to help.
  • Making sure I don't sit down for too long – that's when it locks up and gets painful
  • Look at my diet – I'm reading up on inflammation (thanks for your recommendations!) 
  • Consistent daily kneehab exercises – dreary, but must strengthen those muscles around the knee. Squeeze that cushion! BE LIKE THE WILMA.

I feel very conscious of being a knee bore, especially knowing that some work colleagues read this (sorry fellas), but this accountability really helps. Thanks for your tolerance!

Monthly Check In: January 2012

Each month I’m checking in with my 2012 plans.

A month is a most excellent unit of time. Long enough to make things happen, but short enough to correct your path if necessary. I was trying to convince Gareth of the merits of the Monthly Check In when he said, “I have done feck all this month.”

“Bullshit!” I declared, then rattled off half a dozen things he’d done, including taking his Etape training up a notch, entering his first homebrew competition and going to see the Turner in January exhibition. Sure we just walked into the Gallery, peered at half a dozen paintings before simultaneously freaking out, “Arrgh! Too many people!” then absconded to the pub. But the point was, he had a good January.

Mine was pretty good too:

January highlights

  • Starting a TRX suspension training class – wonderfully tough! The tricep move in particular burns like no other tricep work I’ve ever done. And it seems I can do squats with the TRX without irritating my knee. Lunges are out though.
  • Going back to BodyPump – I can’t do the squat or lunge tracks at all (any substitute ideas?) but the back/hamstring and upper body tracks are bloody awesome
  • Bagpipe yoga – at the end of yoga class, right after the relaxation bit when the lights were off and the mood was mellow and silent, our teacher said her Quote of the Week which was something about the serenity and joy of life when… BURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRHH! A bloke down the hallway started blasting away on his bagpipes. I love Scotland, I do.
  • Two pounds down on the scale

January lowlight

  • Knee news– I hurt my knee in 2005 and it has been a bastard on and off ever since. Mostly on, but I have tried to spare you from too much of the whining around here. I finally took the osteopath’s advice and got a referral to the orthopedic specialist bloke. After much poking and scanning the verdict was osteoarthritis. Great, my knee has a real age of approximately 85.There is not much to be done for that. All I can do is not make it worse. So the “plan” of the past few years – denying, ignoring, gaining a shitload of weight; doing exercises that make it worse – has been tossed.

    Orthopedic Man said I am a long way from needing surgery, so I need to be sensible and be so very very careful. Kickboxing, running, squatting, lunging and other high impact stuff are out. I am going to skip Zumba for now – the twisting and turning always makes it hurt for days afterward. Spinning is my main cardio. Maybe I’ll get a punch bag. You don’t need good knees to punch, right? And I will keep working on slowly losing this extra weight.

I gotta say I have been really bloody emotional about this knee verdict. It is hard not to beat myself up for all the things I did to get to this point. I am seriously mourning squats and roundhouse kicks.

But I must let go and focus on what I can do. So onward to February! My aims are: kneehab,  continue the astoundingly consistent exercise routine, and be more disciplined with the food diary.

New Years Goals Check-in: July

I'm doing monthly updates on my New Year Goals.

July highlights

  • Exercise consistency – giddyup! July's initial motivation was a slight SHAME JOB! feeling – the Summer Up & Runners have been busting their arses 3x week and I didn't want to feel slack! But the motivation is now, "coz it feels good and it makes me less grumpy". Can't go wrong with that.
  • Cycletta training – I had a few weekends away so alas it was mostly on the spinning bike, but I was consistent and I can feel my fitness improving.
  • Seeing a lovely osteopath about my dodgy knee and lower back – after "working around" the pain for about five years. Good to finally understand what's going on.

July lowlights

  • Feeling rotten after the first osteopath visit due to these humbling realisations:
    • the obesity/weight loss/regain rollercoaster has taken its toll on the bod
    • denial/"working around" the problem for years made the knee so much bloody worse than it had to be
    • kickboxing is off the cards for now.

But I got past the gloom pretty quick, and now focusing on what I CAN do. It doth suck that kickboxing and kettlebells are out for the momemnt (all the squat-esque kettlebell moves anyway)… but Pilates, cycling and upper body weights are IN, baby!

I might look into a punching bag to help with the kickboxing withdrawals. Or just gently clobber Gareth to save money. Not really. Don't call the cops!

August plans: Cleaner eating. There's no getting round the fact that my joints would be happier if I was 20 kilos lighter. I've held steady the past two months and I'd like to make some more progress now. No crazy schemes, just making sure I check in with those portion sizes and hunger signals. I slackened off with that a bit in July.

Friday Link Feast #8

Jump World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! What do you mean you don't care for football, it's the World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! Party!

It is not going to be the same this year without my lustbucket headbutting supercrush Zidane but I can't wait to see if a new athletic lad captures my imagination. And of course I hope Australia does alright but I drew Holland in the office sweep so their triumph could mean a mighty £30!

Meanwhile I'm huffy because I pulled my calf muscle at kickboxing, doing a tuck jump. Okay, attempting a tuck jump. I'm just not built for anything plyometrical. I looked in the mirror and noticed I was barely leaving the ground so thought, Must try harder. I leapt up then felt a horrible twiiiing!

I hobbled around yesterday, then felt okay this morning until I was running late for the bus. I stepped off the curb with too much vigour and the calf twiiiinged again. Had to shuffle back home and ask Dr G for a lift to work. Now it hurts like a bastard!

So no Zumba for me tomorrow. I'm pathologically addicted to Zumba at the moment so this is crushing. Why is it whenever I finally get my exercise groove back, I always push too hard too soon!? Boo.

Some links for you today!

Foam! Roller!

This big stick here is the best £15 I've spent in a long time. It's a foam roller, and many of you lovely folk were nagging me to try one… about three years ago. I do listen to you, there's just a slight delay in putting things into action.

Foam-roller

If you're unfamiliar with foam rollers, they are another cross-over from the world of physiotherapy, like stability balls and exercise bands. They're just a cylinder made of high-density foam. Mine is a metre tall and 15cm in diameter. You can use them for all sort of things like stretching, massage and stability exercises. Just Google "foam roller exercises"; there's gazillions of them. Or if you're immature, you can simply use your roller to whack your loved ones on the arse.

I had to get one after I visited my friend Jillian and was whinging about my "golf ball", this horrid knot of tension that I frequently get below my right shoulder blade. Being a physiotherapist Jillian whipped out her trusty foam roller and gave me a quick tutorial. OH BABY. I could not help letting out a rather guttural moan… it really hit the spot and ironed out the pesky golf ball. I bought from Amazon the next week. Turns out it is also fab on my crappy hamstrings, just like many of you said it would be.

To emphasise my love! of! this! thing! I tried to arrange it with my stability ball into an exclamation mark, but the ball kept rolling away. I flipped the pic in Photoshop instead. It looks more like one of those fancy pepper grinders, but I think next time I get into an argument with Dr G I will assemble my giant exclamation mark on the living room floor. For nothing says SO THERE! quite like an exclamation mark made out of physiotheraphy equipment.

Comeback Kid

Dudes! I'm afraid of being hit over the head with a bag of frozen peas if I admit this to you, but there's been some positive developments in the dreaded Hurty Knee Saga.

It's been two years since the initial injury and a year since I reluctantly gave up all forms of cardio except very low impact, in-a-straight-line stuff in the hope of calming the knee down and strengthening the surrounding muscles. So finally on Monday I felt ready to try an RPM class again (the Les Mills answer to Spinning).

It was bloody brilliant. The music was rockin', the pace was relentless and the sweat was drippin'. And finally I could do the Standing Up In The Saddle bits without my knee screaming. I'd forgot how uncomfortable that seat is though, even with padded shorts on. It felt like I'd been hit in the groin with a mallet.

Anyway, that was Monday morning. Monday night we went for a two hour walk along the sea and today was a two hour walk up a hill, and (so far… fingers crossed… chucking salt over my shoulder…) my knee still feels good!

🙂 🙂 🙂

Woohooooooooo! Let us all rejoice, for now you shall be spared from my incessant bitching!

Now I must find a way to persuade Gareth that it would be a real tops idea for us to invest in a spin bike, just like the lovely Mistress Kek has just done. Out of bed and straight onto the bike in her PJs, how's that for an exercise commute?

. . .

In other news, I bought some new undies today. Nothing saucy, mind; just practical everyday boring ones in a multi-pack. They're a size 12. Holy crap!

. . .

Now let's talk about the weather. The sultry Scottish summer drags on! Today we were dog-sitting these two wee stumpy barrels, Tibby and Toby and took them for the aforementioned long walk in the hills. We'd only been out for ten minutes when it completely chucked it down. It was that special kind of rain, so heavy that your trousers are instantly glued to your thighs and you can't see a thing because your eyeballs are being gouged by the horizontal raindrops.

But by the time we got to the top we had dried out. You can see the dogs were still so cranky about it they refused to look at the camera.

the top of dumyat.

Five minutes into the descent it kicked up again, even heavier than before. Everything turned slippery and sludgy and just bloody marvelous. The dogs waded around with mud covering their stubby little knees, turning around every now and then to give me the stink eye.

In the spirit of that recent entry about capturing the moment, here's photographic evidence of us poor creatures (click to see bigger version). It's the precise moment I stopped feeling cheery about the new undies and instead kind of disgusted because they were glued to my skin. Is there anything more revolting than the feeling of cold, heavy, sopping clothes clinging to your body?

But at least the rain stopped and the rainbows came out. AHH SCOTLAND. You gotta love it.

wet wet wet. not just a shithouse band.

Downsizing

I'm amazed at the subtle difference of focusing on what I can do instad of what I can't. Before I would have looked at a 20-minute stretch DVD or 60 leg raises as a cop-out but now I see it's what my body needs right now. So I am just getting on with it instead of fighting against it and being cranky for not being able to do something more Hardcore.

It also amazes me how long I have to beat myself up against a brick wall before I come to these realisations. I seem to be particularly dense when it comes to my body. Just say I was learning to speak English, I would be perfectly content with learning how to say "goodbye" and "hello" and wouldn't smash things up because I couldn't read the complete works of bloody Shakespeare. Yet I have spent the past year or so being frustrated as hell and refusing to accept that you need to walk (or limp) before you can run. Thankfully for you, long suffering reader, I have finally made my peace with that.

. . .

Sam Breach is the author of scrummy food blog Becks and Posh and also happens to be on Weight Watchers to shed a few stray pounds. She posted an entry listing what she ate over the past week. It's a beautiful example of how you can eat the foods you love and still lose weight. There's mushroom and parmesan pizza, croissants, wine, sorbet, sausage – but all in small, controlled portions. Sam eats such delicious and wholesome food but in a very mindful way. And she lost 1.5lb this week, proving that you don't need to give up foods you love or cut out carbs or only eat green things or live off fat-free sugar-free taste-free overprocessed diet shite. Hurrah!

. . .

Another one for my Can Do list – Pay More Attention To What You Put In Your Gob. I'm halfway through my GFG Challenge and I'm right where I started! My waist and boobs have shrunk in a minor way but that's about it. Why has this happened? I haven't adjusted my eating enough to compensate for the lack of exercise. I eat healthy food but tooooooo much of it.

So these past few days I've been scrutinising my intake to see where I can improve.  I like Sam's aforementioned Quality In Small Quantity approach. If you look at her brekkie last week, she'd have a dab of avocado on one slice of toast, whereas I had half an avocado on two pieces of toast. Or even a whole avo if I was feeling particularly gluttonous.

I don't think I need to do anything dramatic, just a few tweaks and pay more attention to my portions. I'm also tracking my food online with both Weight Loss Resources and Nutracheck, using a free trial of each. Still trying to suss out which site I like best. Tracking on paper isn't working for me right now; I had just been writing stuff like, "porridge" or "soup" without really quantifying anything. It's been a nice slap in the chops to really see what I'm putting away.

With less calories available, it's been interesting deciding where I'm willing to spend them. There are some foods I just won't compromise on. Like plain natural yogurt – it's full fat Yeo Valley or nothing. I'd rather eat it less often than gag my way through a daily pot of mealy low-fat stuff (aside from Total Greek Yogurt, of course). And I refuse to eat canned tuna in brine or springwater; it looks and tastes like cat food. Fair enough if it's disguised in a pasta sauce, but if I am having it naked on toast (the tuna, not me) it has to be in olive oil. It has more calories, so I just eat a smaller amount.

That is my overall theme, eating less. Today I had a baby can of tuna on toast, and at first felt kind of lost and cheated to see just one slice of bread on my plate. Don't slices of bread always come in pairs? No, you big pork, they do not!

And what do you know, one slice filled me up. Sometimes I think I still see myself as a sturdy 350lb who needs to fuel her flabby furnace with lots of food. I have to remind myself I am no longer that size, therefore I need less. Part me resents the hell out of that and feels entitled to an extra Weetabix in the morning or a sly bucket of fried chicken. But noooo! Must eat less!

Heal Your Knee And Your Ass Will Follow

Greetings! I have emerged from beneath my rock after a small break. I get so much sanity and solace from having a blog but every now and then I feel a little smothered by it. Instead of writing about things I needed to just focus on doing things instead.

I have the attention span of a gnat today so I will steal Lainey's Bite Sized Chunks format!

Cutting Edge Technology
Here is my current favourite piece of exercise equipment:

Canada

Yes it's Canada's National Parks by R. D. Lawrence. I put the book on the floor then stand on top of it and perform endless sets of step-down thingies for my knee. Kind of like a one-legged squat for the weak and hopeless.

Priorities, Man
Last week it dawned on me that my Fat-Fighting priorities were all out of whack. They were:

  1. Lose more blubber
  2. Increase fitness
  3. Heal my knee

I was wondering why this didn't seem to be happening but then realised that logically they can't really happen in that order.

First of all, I acknowledge that eating right is the best thing I can do to get to my goal, but the key factor in maximising my motivation to do so is exercise. It makes me feel good, strong and purposeful. Ever since I've been unable to do much exercise my motivation has never been as strong. So until I properly tackle Item No 3, I won't be able to do No 2 which will further assist with No 1.

Does that make sense? I have been fretting about No 1 and trying to speed that up by doing as much of No 2 as I can, but often pushing too hard (eg. ill-advised knee push-ups, swimming lessons, etc etc) which makes No 3 even worse. It's hard when your head says GO but the body says NO. I need to learn to listen to the body.

So I turned the list upside down and have been dedicated to Healing The Knee. Thanks to Wilma's helpful email I made up a wee Knee Program. I am doing my physio exercises like a mofo, icing the knee when it gets tender and generally being extra careful. It's not quite what I had in mind when I started my Going For Gold challenge, but I don't see how I am ever going to move forward until I stop this endless cycle of Hurt Knee > Feel Miserable > Exercise Too Hard > Hurt Knee Again > Feel Miserable-r. I've been doing this for almost 18 months, pushing too hard too soon and setting my fitness and flab-fighting goals backwards, so for now the Knee Comes First.

Do's and Don'ts
Along with reassessing priorities I've also decided to stop focusing on what I can't do. Cannae run, Spin, row, jump, swim, squat, kneel. Moan moan moan! The negativity makes things even worse. But what about what I can do? Walk. Stretch carefully. Do upper body weights. Pay closer attention to what I eat since I am not moving as much. I have to accept this situation and work with it, not against it. I have been making things even harder than they need to be.

Pilates
I started Pilates at work again this week! We stopped the class over the summer and I really missed it. Pilates is one of those things that make you wonder, is this doing a bloody thing for me? But when I stopped for a few months I noticed my posture getting lazy and my stomach getting sloppy. So it's good to be back again. Next week I will have to modify some moves, coz the plank irritated my knee, but I think I can do it on my toes again. I like the idea of having Abs of Steel, even if they are hidden under 27 levels of lard!

Winter Fayre
I made the last Spinach Pie of the season this week. Filo pastry and greenery just seems too airy fairy when it's dark outside! I'd also gone off yogurt and muesli for brekkie, far too summery. But this week I was mad for hot stewed apples with yogurt and a couple of big spoons of raw oats and sunflower seeds on top. A pinch of cinnamon and you could almost kid yourself you were eating apple crumble for brekkie. Almost.

I've gone soup daft, too. The latest favourite is very lazy and based on a WW Zero Point recipe. You just chop up a couple of onions, zucchinis and carrots and throw them in a pot with a can of tomatoes (I prefer passata) and the equivalent amount of vegie stock and some mixed herbs. I like it because you don't need to fart around sauteing things. It's easy to clean the pot! Anyway, you just simmer til soft, chucking in a can of butter beans towards the end for some protein. Then blast it smooth or eat it chunky. It's also nice to chuck in an old Parmesan rind while it's simmering away, makes it taste faintly cheesy. As long as you remember to remove it before you blend!

Enough rambling for today, I'm off to make the paella for dinner. Hope you are all going great guns out there in fatblog land!

Kneecrap

I’ll be away for the next few days so if you get a spare moment please send me the following message by ESP:

CHOCOLATE BARS ARE NOT A MEAL!

Thanks, comrades!

. . .

I’m a wee bit guilty of censoring lately. I’m just at the point where I don’t feel like writing if it’s going to be something whiny. There’s nothing worse than going away for a few days and leaving a woe-is-me essay at the top of the page, creating a fabulous impression for any first-time visitors.

That said, I need to rant about my frustration with my stupid knee. I’ve cocked it up again! Pain, crunch, grind, kapow!

Not that it was ever fixed, but it was getting somewhat better.

How about a quick recap! A Kneecap Recap. Haw haw!

May 2005 – First hurt knee during The Great 5K Training. After my race saw a physio once, who put it down to overuse and weak quad/hamstrings. Stopped running, did Spinning instead, did not go back to physio because I saw stupidly myself as Fat Wannabe Athlete who didn’t warrant medical attention. Big mistake!

May 2006 – Knee worse! Particularly bad after attempted comeback at Body Combat class. Grinding noises like plunging your hand into a box of Rice Krispies. Saw doc who sent me to lovely sports physio who basically gave it the same diagnosis as the 2005 dude. But now it had a name, patellofemoral maltracking. Treatment: More exercises and banned from all weight bearing activity – no running, no Body Pump, no Spinning classes with heavy resistance. Basically I’d been making my knee worse for almost a year, so we had a lot of work to do to calm it down.

July 2006 – Knee not better. Limped for a week after doing a set of pushups. Cue depressed blog ranting and raving and a total ban from ANY cardio.

August 2006 – Knee finally FINALLY getting a little better. Was determined not to screw it up so exercised cautiously and wore sensible shoes. Could now walk up and down hills with minimal pain. Could sit at desk without knee cramping up. Could move to standing position without knees catching painfully. Could to kneel to scrub bathtub without pain! Not that I did that very often. Hehe. Could also resume cycling for the almighty duration of twenty minutes!

September 2006 – Physio and I part company for four weeks, with me to continue building up my exercise and him aiming to discharge me at our next meeting. Hurrah!

October 2006 – Did two swimming lessons and one aqua aerobics class in attempt to get variety. Knee felt alright after first class, since I didn’t actually swim anywhere. Starting hurting day after second class. The following week during the aqua class I felt it twinge when we had to "run" down the pool and when we did kicking drills. Remember thinking at one point, I should stop. This ain’t quite right. But then… Surely it’s nothing! I’m in an aqua class and we’re the only ones under 75! It can’t hurt me!

But by the weekend I was limping. Knee horribly tender to touch. It was like the bad old days — couldn’t sit longer than five minutes before it ached and seized up when I tried to stand. Painfully slow to walk down stairs. Couldn’t sleep on my side coz it was agony. Blah blah blahdy blah.

So I went to the physio last Tuesday and he was just as crestfallen as me that he wouldn’t be dismissing me and my creaky knee after all.

I had a minor breakdown and blubbed, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME, will it ever get better, will I ever Squat again, will I ever walk down a hill again, did I need surgery? But he felt there wasn’t anything more sinister going on than the patellofermoral thingy, and rather that the swimming – particularly the breastroke kick – and the pool running re-aggrivated it. It was the only thing I’d done different in the four week break, and I’d had weeks of minimal pain before that. Seems the knee is still sensitive and the lateral movement was too much. But he assured me it was an acute episode and I have not undone months of work. He even offered to treat me for FREE until it calms down again. How noice is that? He is a true Prince amongst Physios I tell you.

I dunno why I didn’t write about this before. For starters, I was quite embarrassed for hurting my myself doing Granny Sports. I only tried swimming because after all these months I was so sick of plodding away on an exercise bike, I thought my knee was ready for something different.

Second, I hate being a whingy git as it may read like a flimsy excuse for my mediocre results in the Going For Gold challenge. It’s affected my morale more than I’ve been willing to admit. I froth with jealousy when I read blogs of people running and kicking and general MOVING. Since I started physio in May, I’ve been losing and regaining the same three kilos. There’s not much room for error with your food when you’re not doing as intense cardio. It’s just been a very frustrating time.

Thirdly, every time I write about my knee I get people emailing me with alternative diagnoses, which are always well-intended but I feel bad because there’s always more detail to these things than what you can express in a blog entry. I really have had various medical opinions and feel confident we know what’s wrong. It’s a common as muck knee problem, just a bit of bitch to heal.

A week later the ol knee is already feeling less tender and easier to move, but I’m taking it slow. Mr Physio says I am really going to have to focus over the winter and do my exercises every day. Consistency, grasshopper! I need to build up the muscles around the dodgy knee, they are so pissweak compared to the left leg.

I am also to stay oot of the pool and stick to cardio "in a straight line" for the forseeable future. Zzzzzzzzzzz. So it’s back to simply walking on a flat surface, cycling with low resistance, and upper body weights.

This whole entry was inspired by the lovely Smaller Sue who’s having knee woes of her own. I really admired her positive attitude in that post, so I decided to have a wee rant and think things through and figure out how to get through this. Thanks for the inspiration, Sue baby!

So no more shortcuts, no more premature "comebacks". It’s been 16 months of this dodgy knee shit and I am so tired of being patient, but I need to be so now more than ever.

Right Time and the Right Place

I felt like a fraud when you all congratulated me on resisting the Mars Bar Ice Cream last week. The only reason I resisted it was because it wasn’t what I really wanted.

What I really wanted was a Marks & Spencer Vanilla Chunky Giant. Which is like a Magnum – chocolate coated vanilla ice cream – except not as sweet and cloying. But M&S was closed by the time I puffed up from the train station, so I couldn’t get one. Had I dared to shove past the security guard and barge to the freezer section before they locked the doors, I would definitely have bought one. The Mars Bar, with its extreme sweetness and flimsy chocolate, didn’t seem an adequate substitute at the time. So I’m not really a beacon of strength for turning it down; just a fussy, spiteful git.

It really helps to cultivate a certain fussiness with certain foods. To be choosy with lofty standards. I remember when the right time for food was ANY TIME and the right food was ANY FOOD. Now I like it to be the right food, at the best time of day or week, consumed in the perfect locale with the planets in correct alignment…

The best example is chocolate. Green and Blacks is now my preferred brand. I try not to eat it between Sunday and Tuesday, because that’s too close to Wednesday Weigh In, thus I wouldn’t really be able to relax and enjoy it. So Wednesday night is good. Or I like to eat it on a Friday night, when I know the working week is behind me and there’s nothing else I should be thinking about and I can sleep in the next day and wake up at my leisure and think fondly, How about that great chocolate I ate last night. And I like eating it on the couch when Gareth is beside me; he’s usually reading or on the laptop and there’s music on and everything’s peaceful. That’s why I get cranky if I get a chocolate from the vending machine at work, or eat M&Ms in the dark at the movies, or a few stray squares when I know there’s a phone call to be made or some menial task to do. It has to be mindful consumption. If you’re only meant to eat a tiny wee portion of chocolate, well then you have to pay attention to the moment! If you eat chocolate in the dark, how do you even know if you really ate it? Did it really happen?!

One of my favourite times and places is the train on a Thursday evening, when I’ve been in town looking at the shops or getting a haircut. I get one of those tiny bars and a magazine then tell myself I can’t start eating until after the first stop. Then after that I break off a little bit more after each stop and the 35 grams are finished just as I get to my station. Sweeeeeet.

Looking at my spreadsheet, I’ve eaten a lot less chocolate this year since I started making it a real treat. Methinks I need to treat toast with the same reverence!

. . .

Last week was much better. I ate reasonably and the scale was down a few pounds today. I’m not going to record anything officially because it just a bit too dramatic of a loss. I have been all feverish with a cold, eating less and just drinking tonnes of water so everything is out of whack. I can just tell that the big dive in numbers isn’t a proper loss, so I am going to kick on this week and see what happens.

I had a great exercise week too! A big cheer to Marla for suggesting wall push-ups while my knees are dodgy. They were surprising gruelling! Perhaps more so than the knee ones.

I managed a slow, easy bike ride on Saturday, with no knee pain! I have lost so much fitness though. I tried to convince myself that two months of next-to-no cardio had NOT entirely replaced my muscles with gelatinous bulk, but now I’m more than a little bit disillusioned. I was sweating and pedalling my pudgy legs out during that bike ride, surely I was flying! But then Gareth passed me with his legs rotating as slow as molasses and said, "Isn’t it nice to be outside? This is so relaxing…" Hehe.

All was going great on Planet Knee until Monday when I wore some slip-on sandals that really seemed to hammer my knees walking on the pavement to the station. I am going to have to stick to boring, sensible shoes as every time I wear something remotely dainty my knee ends up all tender and sore again. I spoke to the physio about it and have got some different kinds of exercises to do now, which hopefully will help my strength levels. It’s such a slow, tedious process and I’ll bore you no further with the details. Rest assured I am doing all the things I need to be doing.

Well I am feeling more snotty than entertaining or insightful today so I will just slink off to bed… til next time, comrades!